Age of Action

Kids’ Wellbeing

We will be breaking down with David how behavioural dynamics have shifted with Covid-19, turning many kids’ home lives into their only lives. With school closed and gathering restricted, we’ll look at where friends still fit in, and what children are creating themselves to create spaces for real connection and contact. And hear from GEMHLab how they develop gaming videos aimed at helping children to cope with challenges and improving their emotional and mental health.


16:00 - 16:40 | Creating Digital Hangouts
David Kleeman

16:50 – 17:30 |  A Game a Day, Keeps the Doctor Away?
Hanneke Scholten & Ken Koontz

David Kleeman
Strategist, analyst, author, speaker — for 35 years, David Kleeman has led the children’s media industry in developing sustainable, kid-friendly practices. He began this work as president of the American Center for Children and Media and is now Senior Vice President of Global Trends for Dubit, a strategy and research consultancy and digital studio.
When he began his work, “children’s media” meant television. Today, he is fascinated by, and passionate about, kids’ wide range of possibilities for entertainment, engagement, play and learning. David uses research, insights and experience to show that much may change, but children’s developmental path and needs remain constant. David is advisory board chair to the international children’s TV festival PRIX JEUNESSE and on the board of the Children’s Media Association. He was a Senior Fellow of the Fred Rogers Center. Back when we travelled, David went worldwide seeking best practices in children’s entertainment and learning. He has spoken (and, more importantly, listened!) on six continents and writes extensively for varied audiences.

David will join the session on Family & co-viewing, hosted by Zapp, to give a broader view and insights on family trends in the UK and US. In another session, he will talk about digital hangouts created by children themselves in apps and games (in other ways that the creators intended). Children are in dire need of real connection as they lack real space to do so. 

Hanneke Scholten
Hanneke is an assistant professor at the Technology, Human and Institutional Behaviour Group of the University of Twente, and co-director of the Games for Emotional and Mental Health (GEMH) Lab. She obtained her Bachelor Pedagogy and Educational Sciences and Research Master Behavioral Science (cum laude) at the Radboud University Nijmegen. In her PhD project (January 2020, cum laude) at the Developmental Psychopathology program of the Radboud University, she designed and tested a game to help youths quit smoking. In this project, she collaborated with game designers and youth and used a variety of methods, such as a participatory design, text-based analyses, and EEG. In her position as postdoctoral researcher at GEMH lab, she focused on understanding and improving youths’ emotional and mental health through technology. In her current position at the University of Twente she is driven to build interdisciplinary collaborations through which digital experiences can be developed that matter to youth and improve their wellbeing. Furthermore, she strives to implement scientifically proven products in the real-world to have an impact on as many youth as possible. Hanneke is a vocal proponent of the potential impact of interactive media on emotional and mental health. To this end, she has published her work in international journals and has delivered over 50 presentations and workshops on this topic to audiences of diverse backgrounds, including the scientific community, parents, youth, teachers, designers, and psychologists.

Ken Koontz
Ken has always tried to create immersive and engaging spaces both in real life and in digital environments. As the current Creative Director at the Games for Emotional and Mental Health (GEMH) Lab, he co-creates engaging interactive tools for study and intervention with a group of researchers and psychologists. Ken studied architecture at Florida A&M University and quickly left the profession to join the game development movement starting at Rainbow Studios and THQ. He eventually moved on towards applied gaming where he could combine the power of play with behavioural sciences to create engaging experiences with lasting impact. At the GEMH Lab, Ken has designed and produced a number of games to assess and train positive behavioural change. The most recent project BioChill is a Virtual Reality (VR) biofeedback training exercise for 3rd year Dutch police academy students, where they are placed into stressful situations and must regulate their breathing to increase their chance of success.​